The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced on Sunday that Syria is now officially in a state of civil war.
Those involved in the fighting in the now 16-month-long conflict will now be subjected to the Geneva Conventions. Under the conventions, all parties in the conflict are subject to the international rules of law, and if violated could be tried for war crimes.
“We are now talking about a non-international armed conflict in the country,” ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan told The Associated Press.
Earlier the Red Cross had already designated parts of the country at the center of the armed conflict, such as the city of Homs and the city of Hama, to be in a state of civil war.
The announcement comes a day after United Nations (U.N.) observers in Syria visited the village of Tremseh, which saw a mass killing on Thursday.
According to the U.N., heavy weapons were used in the killing of an unknown number of rebel fighters and civilians. The use of heavy weapons by Syrian authorities violates a U.N.-backed peace plan. Syrian authorities have denied the use of heavy weapons and state television reported that troops moved into the town after residents called for help after being attacked by terrorists.
The number of dead is unclear. Some activists put the figure at around 200 people, and have claimed it to be the worst massacre since protests erupted in the country in March 2011.
In a statement on Saturday, the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria said that the violence was not indiscriminate.
“The attack on Tremseh appeared targeted at specific groups and houses, mainly of army defectors and activists,” the statement said.
According to the statement, there were bullet casings and pools of blood in rooms of several homes.
“The U.N. team also observed a burned school and damaged houses with signs of internal burning in five of them,” according to the statement.
The incident on Thursday caused widespread condemnation from world leaders. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there was “indisputable evidence” that Syria had “deliberately murdered civilians.”
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